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brian1208
11th July 2013, 05:43 PM
I have just spotted that an article I wrote on this has now been published and wondered if it may be of interest to anyone here

http://www.ephotozine.com/article/photographing-birds-in-flight-with-the-om-d-22345

I suspect you may recognise some of it but it made an interesting compilation of where I've got to over the last year

tomphotofx
11th July 2013, 05:50 PM
Very interesting Brian, thanks for writing about your experience with the BIF and for sharing your knowledge.

Tom:)

Jetset95
11th July 2013, 06:20 PM
Excellent Brian thanks very much. I've been trying to do this at various RSPB centres with my Panny 100-300mm lens and with some pretty miserable results. Much of it has been hand held at sub-optimal speeds so I know it's not the camera's fault, but I'd love to be able to do more of it than just in the garden with the sparrows, robins and blackbirds.

David Morison
12th July 2013, 07:37 AM
Interesting article and I have been basically using this set-up for some while. The problem with the E-M5 though when using centre 9 or all AF points is that if any other than centre point auto-selects then when returning to 14x spot it will not be in the centre and time is wasted adjusting the position. As encouraging as the results in this article may be there is still no doubt that compared to a Canon 7D/5DIII the E-M5 is a league behind in terms of BIF. This is a huge disappointment to me as I regard the E-M5 to be far better IQ wise for most subjects than the 7D - all I want is to be able to just carry one camera and a couple of lenses instead of two outfits.

David

Zuiko
12th July 2013, 09:12 AM
Excellent article, Brian, thanks for sharing. :)

brian1208
12th July 2013, 10:35 AM
there is still no doubt that compared to a Canon 7D/5DIII the E-M5 is a league behind in terms of BIF

absolutely agree David, see this comment that I added to the end of the article in EPZ:

I was a bit upset to find that a key paragraph in my article has been left out, so here it is for completeness:


Quote:
I'll start by declaring my belief that no matter how effective I become at using the OMD for this purpose it will never be as easy to use nor yet achieve the same success rate as I managed using the Canon system. On the other hand, the light weight of the OM-D system means that I am now able to shoot hand-held all day without being crippled by pain the next day (which was the only reason I changed from my canon system in the first place)


edit

I have just discovered another key section of my thoughts has also been edited out, I'm not sure why they felt that had to do this. Anyway, here is the other deletion, for completeness:

The light weight of the OM-D system does have one unexpected downside however, the heavier canon lenses seemed to be more stable resting in my hand as I tracked and locked on to the bird. With the OM-D even the 75-300 is so light in my hand that the lack of inertia results in it tending to waver about the sky somewhat unless I consciously think about it and change my grip (using the left hand holding the lens as a brace as well as a tracking device). With the canon system it was a totally instinctive action, point, locate and shoot, it still isn't yet with the OM-D

Wally
12th July 2013, 03:26 PM
Not so hard to justify the omissions when those points you made highlight the vagaries of the Olympus set-up as described. I too have a Canon set-up for high-speed aircraft shots as I've found the micro 4/3 produce the same problems.

When I used the e-3 with the 50-200 / 75-300 the 'waver' didn't happen so there is a balance to be made. A good stance with the arms tucked in and a swivel from the waist does help but sadly, it doesn't quite tick all the boxes.

OM USer
12th July 2013, 04:40 PM
I can't get those shutter speeds you are using even at ISO 2000!

I also find that in an urban environment there is not much scope for tracking BIFs as they tend to be below tree top height.

But your photos show that BIFs can be done. I must keep trying.

Alpha1
13th July 2013, 08:32 AM
Super article Brian! It sums up all of my own frustrations when attempting BIF. as I also am often at the coast and visited the Hawk Conservancy only last week!

I am still refining my own techniques and not yet confident enough to publish my results. I shall be staying at my son's static caravan in west Dorset next week, so will try some more. Thanks a bunch for your tips over the last year and like you, I won't be going back to DSLR's again!

Maczero
18th July 2013, 09:28 PM
I stumbled across this article while googling how to take decent shots of BIF. There is a whole lot of technique on top of all this I expect, judging by my own pitiful attempts to take BIF, but I am using these settings as my basic setup now.

I really like the OM-D and would like to be able to take pictures with the 75-300, but I am definitely not there yet.

More practice needed!

Andrew

David M
18th July 2013, 09:36 PM
How did people manage to photograph birds in flight before the internet and using manual focus and exposure on film?

David Morison
18th July 2013, 10:29 PM
How did people manage to photograph birds in flight before the internet and using manual focus and exposure on film?

This is just as possible now as it was then but our problem is that we expect to be able to rattle off keepers left, right and centre and consequently we have lost that degree of patience that all wildlife photographers once needed, even for a mediocre shot.
David

brian1208
18th July 2013, 10:34 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by David M http://e-group.uk.net/forum/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://e-group.uk.net/forum/showthread.php?p=239846#post239846)
How did people manage to photograph birds in flight before the internet and using manual focus and exposure on film?

This is just as possible now as it was then but our problem is that we expect to be able to rattle off keepers left, right and centre and consequently we have lost that degree of patience that all wildlife photographers once needed, even for a mediocre shot.
David


I'm in full agreement with both of you, its the same as I read the "Pundits" saying that this system in "No Good" for sports photography, when what they are saying is - I can't point and spray and expect as many good shots as I can with my "XYZ DSLR".

I'm happily relearning old techniques (including shooting with a 30+ year old mirror lens) and discovering more and more things are possible -- with a little bit more effort *chr

Maczero
19th July 2013, 10:08 PM
So much of this is technique. However, using Brian's settings I have for the first time got some sharp pictures - unfortunately they are birds' bottoms as they disappear over the hill. The next trick is to catch birds as they cross or come towards me.

There seems to be a real art to tracking the bird to keep it in the focus box, simultaneously tickling the shutter to keep the AF up to speed and being ready to intervene manually if necessary. The tracking seems the real challenge and I guess that is just practice.

One thing that I did notice was when I attached a monopod to the camera, it gave it a bit of heft that was lacking (just hanging as a weight underneath the body) and my impression was that it made tracking smoother. It is intriguing enough for me to give this another try.

I am still not sure whether my old 50-200 and 1.4TC might not be almost as good, albeit on manual focus. I suppose that is another angle to test.

Andrew

brian1208
19th July 2013, 11:11 PM
One thing that I did notice was when I attached a monopod to the camera, it gave it a bit of heft that was lacking (just hanging as a weight underneath the body) and my impression was that it made tracking smoother

that would make sense based on my experience, the extra inertia damps out the tendency to wave the system all over the sky (and could be more relaxing than the sort of "Dynamic Tension" technique I seem to have worked out, using the lens hand against the body hand to stabilise the 75-300 at full extension)

Let us know how you get on and post a few pics

Maczero
30th July 2013, 06:36 PM
OK

Here goes. First chance to try this since this conversation last week. The only one I am really happy with is the Mute Swan. This was the one which was the most instinctive point-swing-shoot and I guess the most predictable trajectory.

http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/thumbs/AMM_130730_7300452_LochBirnie_.jpg (http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=63784)

I would value critique on the images of the gulls, since these seem to be regarded as "BIF 101" by some. They seem to be anything but simple to me where I shoot them - quite tight turns and a cluttered background.


http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/thumbs/AMM_130730_7300580_LochBirnie_.jpg (http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=63785)

http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/thumbs/AMM_130730_7300603_LochBirnie_.jpg (http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=63786)

http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/thumbs/AMM_130730_7300663_LochBirnie_.jpg (http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=63787)

http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/thumbs/AMM_130730_7300677_LochBirnie_.jpg (http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=63788)

I have to say that I find tracking really quite hard, especially as the lens racks in and out trying to find focus (e.g. when I am 'pumping' the trigger release. Compared to the Nikon V1, which snapped into focus quite quickly this took a lot more work. If the V1 had a 600mm equivalent lens I would be very tempted to use it for birds in flight.

I have been using centre-weighted metering and 4 fps, but I saw a post on another website which advocated using 9 fps in case the wing beat obscured the head. Any advice on this?

Andrew

davidfarquhar
30th July 2013, 07:28 PM
The main issue with 9fps is you lose image stabilisation and the ability to continuously focus. So if shutter speed is high enough and you are using single shot focus you will be fine. I use it occasionally for action for precisely the reason you suggest

brian1208
30th July 2013, 07:29 PM
Its not straightforward is it Andrew but you haven't done too badly here, as you say "Airbrakes" looks the best focused.

Part of the "hutning" with the focusing may well be that you look to have quite busy backgrounds in most of the shots which may not be helping, how many focus points were you using for these shots? (for the "busy backgrounds" I tend to stick with single point and even then its not always stable - but neither was it with most of my early DSLR + 300mm+ lenses - until I got to the 7D + "L" glass)

9fps will probably do OK if you are constantly working the shutter button and only firing burst of 3 or so, but it stops refocusing the moment you close the button, whereas at 4fps it will continue to refocus between shots, I do tend to stick with 4fps most of the time

Maczero
30th July 2013, 08:45 PM
Thanks Brian. One thing, I didn't know that S-AF refocused between shots at 4 fps. I thought that C-AF did that. I know that it doesn't focus between shots at 9 fps. I was using the centre focus point at normal size. Is it worth minimising it (but then the tracking had better be spot on!)?.

Andrew

brian1208
30th July 2013, 10:03 PM
I was using the centre focus point at normal size
that's my usual setting too

All I can suggest is practise and getting used to the idea that AF isn't going to work in some situations (have you tried using the manual focus tweak to help the focus system to grab the image, working with SAF + MF setting? I find it can help some times)

Zuiko
30th July 2013, 10:22 PM
Thanks Brian. One thing, I didn't know that S-AF refocused between shots at 4 fps. I thought that C-AF did that. I know that it doesn't focus between shots at 9 fps.

Andrew

The S-AF refocuses between shots at 4fps every time the shutter is pressed. What it doesn't do is continuously adjust as you track a moving subject with the shutter half pressed, as the C-AF (allegedly) does. To achieve tracking in this situation using S-AF you need to continuously half press and release the shutter button (or dedicated focus button). Of course, this is not true continuous focus tracking but the sheer speed of the S-AF makes it viable and through practice Brian does seem to have developed it to a fine art.

Maczero
30th July 2013, 10:30 PM
That's what I thought. Maybe more coffee to get my trigger finger twitching fast enough?

Zuiko
30th July 2013, 10:56 PM
That's what I thought. Maybe more coffee to get my trigger finger twitching fast enough?

Haha, I have a problem with my shutter finger twitching involuntarily and sometimes I inadvertantly achieve about 5fps when I didn't even mean to take a picture! :D Glad I'm not using film! :eek:

David M
30th July 2013, 11:05 PM
I'm finding my 300mm f/4.5 OM very nice for BIF now I seem to have killed the fungus in it by baking it in the oven.

It was my BIF lens in my OM using days (often with a 1.4x) but haven't used it much in the past decade or two.

Zuiko
30th July 2013, 11:09 PM
I'm finding my 300mm f/4.5 OM very nice for BIF now I seem to have killed the fungus in it by baking it in the oven.

It was my BIF lens in my OM using days (often with a 1.4x) but haven't used it much in the past decade or two.

Is that recomended by Olympus? :D

David M
30th July 2013, 11:34 PM
John, the 300mm hadn't been out of my equipment cabinet since I tested it on my E-1 in 2006 or 2007. Having resurrected all my legacy manual focus primes I discovered fungus in the 300mm so I baked it in the oven for a few days to try to dry out and kill the fungus.

Zuiko
30th July 2013, 11:46 PM
John, the 300mm hadn't been out of my equipment cabinet since I tested it on my E-1 in 2006 or 2007. Having resurrected all my legacy manual focus primes I discovered fungus in the 300mm so I baked it in the oven for a few days to try to dry out and kill the fungus.

Let's hope the lens didn't develop any hot spots. :D

David M
30th July 2013, 11:58 PM
I rotated all my other legacy glass through the oven after the 300mm. Well apart from my 350mm which would probably break the shelf in the oven!

Zuiko
31st July 2013, 12:05 AM
I rotated all my other legacy glass through the oven after the 300mm. Well apart from my 350mm which would probably break the shelf in the oven!

That would make you popular. :eek:

The things our wives have to put up with - film in the fridge (OK not for a while) and now lenses in the oven. I suppose the next thing will be camera bodies in the freezer to cure hot pixels and Benedict putting his tripod head in the washing machine to get the sand out! :D

brian1208
31st July 2013, 04:24 AM
I'm finding my 300mm f/4.5 OM very nice for BIF now I seem to have killed the fungus in it by baking it in the oven.

It was my BIF lens in my OM using days (often with a 1.4x) but haven't used it much in the past decade or two.

Sounds interesting (not the "Lens Baking" part :) ) is that lens capable of AF through an adapter or are you shooting in manual focus?

Alpha1
31st July 2013, 07:37 AM
I rotated all my other legacy glass through the oven after the 300mm. Well apart from my 350mm which would probably break the shelf in the oven!

Do you slow bake or fast bake your lenses David?! ;)

David M
31st July 2013, 09:41 AM
The lens is manual focus.

I slow baked it at the lowest temperature the oven could be set to.

I had a Common Swift in flight taken with the lens published a couple of decades ago.